Whether to help clear up your skin, improve your sleep or reduce joint or muscle pain linked to inflammation, there are specific reasons that nutritionists will recommend you ditch dairy and avoid meat to see if it helps correct what's going wrong. Here are six signs that a plant-based diet might help you feel better.

Some people come to the idea of going plant-based on their own, because they are seeking healthy weight loss, improved immunity, or they want to eat a planet-friendly diet.  But for the rest of us, it takes a health event, even a small one, to inspire the switch. Now we learn from nutritionists that there are clear health signs that a plant-based diet is optimal and may alleviate your symptoms, from sleep issues to gut problems that ditching dairy and meat can help solve.

Meanwhile, there are long-term health benefits to going plant-based that have been studied, including reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But long before a full-blown health crisis or life-altering diagnosis, there are warning signs that something about your diet is not serving you well. It can be aches and pains from inflammation, poor circulation, uneasy sleep, chronic sports injury, and other daily minor or major complaints.

Nutritionists often counsel their patients that a dairy-free diet that is free of meat and poultry can be clearly connected to a positive impact on your health. So how do you know

So when do you now that it’s time to make the shift? Turns out, your body holds some telling clues that going plant-based may really help you out. Below, nutritionists break down signs that show you should consider embracing the plant-strong life.

And it goes without saying, but you should always talk with your doctor or nutritionist before overhauling your diet, especially if you suffer from any medical conditions.

1. You suffer from an issue related to chronic inflammation.

Whether it’s an issue with your digestive tract (like Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or inflamed skin (psoriasis) or a sports injury that stubbornly won't heal, inflammation in the body can cause havoc as cells struggle to function properly and exchange waste for nutrients and oxygen.

How do you know if inflammation is the cause? Ditch the foods that can drive up inflammation such as dairy and processed meats. Doing so and replacing them with high fiber plant-based whole foods will help your body flush out the remaining waste and detox, helping your cells to go back to functioning in a healthy way that allows the tissue to heal and recover.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to diseases that are deadly, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Meanwhile, studies have shown that a whole-food, plant-based diet may help improve and reduce chronic inflammation, reversing disease completely.

“If you experience chronic inflammation, transitioning to a vegan diet may help. A vegan diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds, which all work to reduce inflammation,” says Allison Gregg, RDN, LD/N, Nutritional Consultant at MomLovesBest.  “A study in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that 600 individuals who followed a vegan diet for three weeks significantly reduced C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a key marker for acute and chronic inflammation.” Pretty neat, and a reminder about the healing power of what we eat, huh?

2. You’re enduring chronic pain that doesn't go away with OTC painkillers.

Studies show that a plant-based diet is full of anti-inflammatory compounds provided through phytonutrients,” says Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, of Balance One Supplements. “If you experience chronic pain or inflammation a vegan diet may be beneficial in mitigating your symptoms.”

Carly James, Ph.D., MSc, in sport and exercise nutrition, fitness instructor, and an editorial contributor for Fitness Authority also points to an interesting study that found that following a whole-food, plant-based diet can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. “This may be because managing a person’s weight reduces the strain on their joints,” she says.

Anecdotally, there are also countless stories of people improving chronic pain from going vegan like this young New Yorker who treated his alopecia and his pain by eating a raw, vegan diet and this pro athlete who found that a vegan diet helped alleviate his sciatica pain.

3. You need to lose weight but want to do it the healthy way.

James speaks to the importance of going plant-based for weight loss and weight management: One study even found a vegan diet beat the American Heart Association diet for improving cardiovascular risk in obese, hypercholesterolemic children and their parents, with the low-fat, vegan diet helping on the weight loss front.

“Obesity is a major risk factor in diabetes, which is a serious disorder with significant implications. This means that following a vegan diet can lower your risk of diabetes,” she adds, citing research that a low-fat, vegan diet may help more in the treatment of type 2 diabetes than a conventional vegan diet.

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4. Your sleep quality is poor or you can't get to sleep.

Millions of Americans suffer from sleep issues and embracing a plant-based diet (along with solid sleep hygiene practices like these, may help in the snoozing department.

“A vegan diet is beneficial for sleep if you experience difficulty with sleep. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that a diet low in fiber and high in saturated fat and sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more disruptions throughout the night,” comments Gregg. “A vegan diet is comprised of plant-based foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat,” she continues, adding that improving your dietary patterns through transitioning to a vegan diet rich in nutrient-dense foods could improve your sleep quality.

5. You’d love to improve your mood, whether you have anxiety or down days.

Wouldn't we all like to feel calmer, more optimistic, and not suffer mood swings? Yes, yes, yes! Well, there’s a growing body of evidence linking a plant-based diet and positive changes in brain chemistry and even the mood-boosting properties of certain foods and nutrients.

“What you eat does impact your mood. A study in the Nutrition Journal found that restricting meat, fish, and chicken intake improved multiple domains of short-term mood in omnivores,” offers Gregg. “This is because omnivorous diets are high in arachidonic acid compared to vegan diets. High intakes of arachidonic acid promote changes in the brain that disturb mood. If you want to improve your mood throughout the day, a vegan diet may help,” she continues.

6. You’d like to improve your skin, clear up acne and have a smoother complexion.

“Foods consumed on a plant-based diet can also help control acne breakouts in both severity and longevity,” explains Best. “Plants are naturally rich in fiber which helps rid toxins from the body by clinging to them and eliminating them from the body naturally. Fewer toxins in the body mean less adverse health reactions, including acne.”

For more ongoing plant-based and your complexion, check out how eating a vegan diet can clear acne and brighten skin.

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